Malaysia, Mahathir’s bankrupted failed-state

You cannot become a failed state in the mere eight years that Najib has been Prime Minister. It takes 30-40 years of bad management to reach that stage. So Mahathir had better ease up on this ‘Malaysia has become a failed state’ mantra because then it will point back to him. In fact, much of what the government is currently doing is to repair the damage that Mahathir left behind. And the opposition knows this, which is why they are so frightened. If not why would the opposition tell the voters that the 6% GST is worse than the 16% SST that it replaced?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Yes, that is what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the opposition leaders would like us to believe: that Malaysia is a bankrupted failed-state.

I will not debate the economics and statistics of the whole issue (I will allow bloggers such as LSS who are better equipped to talk about such matters to do that) but Malaysia is by far the opposite of either bankrupted or a failed state. There are certain criteria to meet to become a failed state and Malaysia for sure does not meet these criteria. Maybe one should read up on the definition of ‘failed state’ before declaring that Malaysia is one.

Anyway, even if it is true that Malaysia is a failed state, or a bankrupted failed state, that cannot happen overnight. It took Britain many years of a welfare state policy to become what it has become today (Britain started on the road of self-destruction since the 1960s). It took Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, etc., decades of mismanagement and bad policies to become bankrupt. You cannot get to this stage overnight or even in the eight years that Najib Tun Razak was Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

It is like racism. It took Malaysia two generations of bad policies since the 1960s to reach the stage it has reached now. Malaysia did not become racist in just 12 years after Merdeka (meaning from 1957 to 1969). The cauldron was simmering all the way since 1945, and before that, and it was just waiting to boil over. So all it needed was a spark and the Young Turks in Umno who wanted to play the race card to oust Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman provided that spark.

The British ruled British India through a divide-and-rule policy. That was why a mere thousands of British were able to keep a nation of 300 million Indians under control. They did the same in British Malaya. The Malays, Indians and Chinese were segregated and never lived as one. The Malays were groomed in British schools so that they could join the civil service while the Chinese went to Chinese schools and became entrepreneurs.


So, while the Malays ran the government (plus the army and police), the Chinese ran the economy. That was the British masterplan because a united Malay-Chinese Malaya was bad for business — as they would dream of independence from Britain. During the Japanese occupation of 1941-1945, this racial divide further deteriorated when the Japanese instigated the Malays to not trust the Chinese — and then told the Chinese they were ‘sold out’ by the Malays.

When the Japanese surrendered in September 1945, for two weeks Malaya had no government and the Chinese went on a rampage killing all the Japanese ‘collaborators’, many of them Malays. Many innocent people were also murdered on allegations of being Japanese collaborators. Actually they were revenge killings disguised as executions of Japanese collaborators.

My relatives were amongst those the Chinese killed and the main reason is because they were members of the royal family who the Japanese ‘did not touch’ (the Japanese were ‘lenient’ towards royalty because they viewed their own royal family as being god-like). So the Chinese punished those they called ‘collaborators’ by executing them and amongst ‘collaborators’ were the Malay elite who the Japanese treated with respect.

Many had to go into hiding (Onn Jaffar being one of them) and could only return to their homes after the British returned two weeks later. Invariably many Malays distrusted the Chinese because they saw in the two weeks of lawlessness the Chinese acted very brutally towards the Malays. So the 13 May 1969 race riots was not an overnight spark but was an inheritance of the pre-war years since long before 1941. It may have exploded in May 1969 but it had been building up since the 1850s when the British first brought the Chinese into Malaya and divided Malaya into Malay Malaya and Chinese Malaya.

Then 1945 taught the Malays that the Chinese would never hesitate to slaughter the Malays if they were the government (and for two weeks in September 1945 the Chinese were ‘the government’ while awaiting the return of the British). So things do not happen overnight. It takes decades to happen. That means if Malaysia is a failed state then it has to start moving towards that failed-state status since the time Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister.

Most economists agree that Mahathir was a bad economic manager and much of what he did was wrong. Once Mahathir gets an idea he wants it implemented and he does not care if the experts tell him otherwise. Mahathir was advised to not go into the shipbuilding, railway, and car industries, but he did. Mahathir was told that Malaysia cannot be like Japan because the population is too small and cannot support domestic spending so he told Malaysians they must have five children per family so that Malaysia can in time have a population of 70 million.

The question is what if Malaysia does have a population of 70 million will it mean the country is going to be rich just like Japan? The population of the Philippines is 100 million while Indonesia is 260 million. Using Mahathir’s logic they should be more prosperous than Japan. Instead Malaysia with only 32 million people is better off.




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